I recently had the pleasure of visiting Starlight Distillery out of Indiana. The winery-turned-distillery is putting out some incredible spirits these days and we got to sample our fair share. As part of my due diligence for picking 4 barrels with them, I tasted through this single barrel coming out of a lovely little store in Connecticut called Liquor Depot ahead of time. This bottle went with me all the way as far as Ohio before coming back to MA. I've enjoyed quite a bit of it at this point and have really explored many of its layers. I figure it's about time to give it some proper tasting notes here so I can share the whiskey experience I think everyone in some of the states with shorter distribution availabilities are missing!
Let's get into it (before it's gone!).
Company on Label: Starlight Distillery
Whiskey Type: Indiana Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: Starlight's 4 grain mash: 51% Corn, 20% Rye, 9% Wheat, 20% Malted Barley
Age: 4 (and a half) years
Further identification: Barrel 16415 was picked by Liquor Depot in CT; it was aged in a barrels from Spirit of Canton barrels charred to a level 3 char with a charred head - I'd like to give a shout to Andrew Jerdonek who somehow remembered all the details from this pick from memory (mash bill, cooperage, everything... that guy is a wizard)
Nose: Creamy vanilla pudding upfront as I lift the glass to my nose. A light lemon peel and Earl Grey tea gently lift off the surface. A soft, oily, viscous nose-feel greets you until you dive really deep where a touch of worn leather, pepper and caramel begins to build in intensity. Time for a sip!
Coming back after a few sips I find the glass has maintained the creamy vanilla profile while adding much more baking spice. Pepper and leather continue to add a nice level of complexity. I'm not overwhelmed by the volume of aromas at all, which makes this much easier to relax with and enjoy rather than spending a lot of time attempting to be analytical. The empty glass smells of grenadine, honey, brown sugar, and sweet barbecue smoke.
Palate: My first sip is an explosion of lemon frosting and light, floral tea. Caramel comes in like a tidal wave right behind those initial flavors and produces a thick, rich mouth coating. As the wave of the first sip slowly fades I find great chocolate and baking spice tones. Another taste brings in a touch of tannin and a big tingly mouthful of cherry and faint cinnamon hots. Every sip feels like it carries a crescendo, or perhaps follows a bell curve; there's a slight sizzle, a dazzling, intense delivery and then a long off ramp that is just the right pace to not prove cloying. A subtle background note carries a touch of peanut brittle that could easily be missed if sipping through quickly. A larger sip and swish shows off lovely plum and raisin characteristics. Oooh, later in the glass there is a really funky fruity spice that has built up; it reminds me of a warm cinnamon, plum and walnut Dutch oven cobbler. Throughout this entire pour this sips are really easy, even up at 120.6 proof. The fruit medley is just sweet enough to fend off the more stinging effects of the background spices. Primarily this is a sweet and charismatic bourbon I'd love to keep on my shelf. The linger continues to be long and really quite straightforward which gives this whiskey an overall comforting feeling. There aren't too many surprises, just solid flavors at every corner. My last sip has almost a linen quality to the oak, something I've definitely found before in other whiskeys, but this one tastes a touch different. There's a long, simmering smolder of cinnamon and orange peel that I primarily feel up in my gums.
A lovely, lovely bourbon I'm impressed with more every day. I put it in blinds and head to heads and consistently this profile finds its way up near the top of my list. I'm really going to enjoy finishing off the last few ounces of this bottle. If you're local and want to try this before it's gone, you should hit me up sooner than later! I do think the bottle has definitely leveled out a bit with oxidation at this point, so take some of my points with that in mind. Have you tried any Starlight products? Let me know in the comments! Cheers all.